So here in the Magical MidAtlantic, we’ve been snowed in since Friday. I’ve been trying to use the time to be consciously grateful and, of course, privileged old woman that I am, there’s quite a lot for which I ought to be grateful.
I’m in the middle of writing a tricky brief and — and here’s one of the things for which I’m grateful — I’m able to work on it at home. No time wasted commuting (although I am missing the drive along my beloved Potomac). No interruptions. Plenty of time to get up, do my daily practice, hit the treadmill, stretch, and throw in a load of laundry while I search for the next three lines.
I don’t pretend that producing legal prose is nearly as creative as, for example, writing poetry, designing gardens, or dancing. But the short video above reminds me of the way that I want to approach, especially, these difficult briefs:
[T]he hardest part is not freaking out when I’m in pain. . . . The end of the day is kind of this crazy culmination of the excitement and of the pressure all at once for the show and — everything in this art form — I feel like it’s a balance and without having the pressure I don’t know that there would be excitement because so much of what we do is about sharing. [B]ecause it’s such a high stakes kind of situation, I know I will look back feeling like I lived my life to the fullest. I don’t want to not try because I’m afraid.
I doubt many lawyers would admit this, but writing a difficult brief can be painful and, indeed, the most difficult part is to not freak out when you’re in the middle of that pain. (I remember a chant that I learned years ago from Jean Houston at Omega: “Don’t forget to breathe. It’s the most important part.”) The statement that the ballerinas make in the video:
Because it’s such a high stakes kind of situation, I know that I will look back feeling like I lived my life to the fullest. I don’t want to not try because I’m afraid,
probably captures everything I’ve learned over decades of producing legal prose for pay. And it reminds me of some of my favorite lines from the Mary Oliver poem that I’ve put into my will to have read at my funeral:
When it’s over, I want to say, “All of my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
“I don’t want to not try because I’m afraid.” I think if I ever got a tattoo, that would be a good one for me.